A few months ago, a friend from work was trying to get a bunch of women to race Tri for the Cure with her. I initially blew it off thinking that it seemed like a lot of work and time, but eventually caved in. I figured it would be a good way to get in shape and to hang out with people from work whom I liked. This being Colorado, no one seems to just grab drinks after a hard day of work to relax and hang out. Nonononono. You must engage in some physically taxing activity to spend extracurricular time together. This includes skiing, snowboarding, river rafting, biking, running, and training for a triathlon.
The other thing about Colorado is that performing for races is part of agreement that you sign when you move here. I didn’t believe this at first. I then perused the fine print on my driver’s license application and saw that there’s a clause requiring that you sign up for a race. Tri for the Cure is a sprint distance triathlon, which means a 750m swim, 12 mile bike ride, and 5K run, in that order. To me, any one of those taken separately qualifies as a pretty vigorous workout. To do them all together, it seemed like insanity.
Here, though, the general response to “I’m doing Tri for the Cure” was this: “Oh, that’s just a sprint distance. Those are easy.”
The conversation would then continue and everyone around would chime in to talk about what longer/faster/more grueling race they were going to do. They would talk about their training for the Boston Marathon (a race you have to qualify for by running a marathon in 3 HOURS and 40 MINUTES if you’re 18-34), upcoming Century rides (100 mile bike rides), and swimming the ENGLISH CHANNEL. I’m not kidding. Next to that, the triathlon seemed a bit piddly. I’d lower my head and start to mutter about patients to see and slowly back away. One of my friends (and you know who you are) even said nonchalantly, “Oh, yeah, Tri for the Cure. I did that a few years ago as a first triathlon. I won in my age category.” You WHAT?!
I mean, my idea of a workout is some frantic knitting, which burns 99 calories an hour.
Still, I managed to train and felt pretty good. I was going to ride my old, 3 speed 1970s bike for the race. A friend of mine who’s a big bike racer was horrified by this. I think he was as horrified by my wanting to ride Ol’ Betsy as I am when I see people wearing nylons with open toed shoes. He actually managed to wrangle a bike from a friend’s wife. A few days before the race, I went over to his house to learn how it worked. There were so many gears. And so many switches. And so many places to put your hands. And little cages for your feet. He showed me how it all worked, and I went back home and flopped into a chair and actually burst into tears, overwhelmed by how real and serious it all seemed.
The next day, I took the bike for a ride and after I got over my initial fear of mortal injury, it was great.
Race day came and I woke up strangely calm and feeling prepared. The race itself was, well, pretty fun actually. Initially Eric and the boy were going to come down later, but they managed to get to the bike start just as I was about to go through and it gave me such a boost to hear them cheering for me as I got onto the saddle. For this particular race, you can wear your ipod for the run portion. I’d preloaded it with a playlist of fast, upbeat tunes that I loved. I set the ipod to random and took off on the run. Everytime it would shuffle to the next song, I’d wonder HOW my ipod knew that I loved that song, sort of forgetting that the playlist was basically all my favorites, so it couldn’t really go wrong.
I was rather proud of myself when it was all over. There’s something in knowing that you can push your body to work that hard and it responds. I’ll do the race again next year, and maybe do a little more fundraising.
I also learned that you CAN drink beers with friends here in Colorado, you just have to do so AFTER you finish a physically taxing race.